Re-tying Heart Strings

Mar 12, 2012

“The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” Proverbs 14:1

I have been foolish. I have failed. I have torn down my house with my own hands (& my own words).  Two things that pushed my buttons last week: direct disobedience & sibling rivalry.

Each request I made, whether said gently or harshly, was met with defiance (remember mr. “no want to”). I corrected: “I need you to obey me! I want things to go well for you. Children obey your parents, for this is right.”

When I was busy feeding the baby I would hear my sons arguing & hurting each other. I corrected: “Treat each other special! Honor your brother!”

When I had to re-schedule the baby’s doctor’s appointment, it meant bringing all the boys & being shut in a tiny examination room, which magnified their disobedience, disrespect & harshness. (my 2 1/2 yr old kicked & hit the doctor, turned off & on the lights despite my requests to stop. Then the middle two boys were wrestling on the floor while the nurse tried 3 different times to get blood from my sweet newborn’s heel. Then a tantrum & a fight between brothers over a silly band.)

By Friday, after lunch but before naps, I was completely done. Once again I was feeding the baby & once again the boys were fighting & saying hurtful things. I snapped.

I sent each boy to a different bedroom. The two-year-old responded with his standard “no want to”. My tone escalated. With each of his refusals to my requests, my blood boiled hotter. Finally I laid the newborn down, grabbed the toddler, stomped up the stairs, not-so-gently placed him in his crib & slammed the door.

As I sat in the chair feeding the baby the Holy Spirit stirred in me.

How can I keep asking them to “treat each other special” when I just did the complete opposite? How can I ask them to obey when I completely disobeyed the Lord’s command to “Love one another” & to display the Spiritual fruit of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, & self control”?

I know that I need to apologize. I know I need to ask for forgiveness.

But how can I? AGAIN!

Throughout the pregnancy I would get more frustrated than normal, respond harshly & then ask for forgiveness.

How many times can I fail & ask for forgiveness before they give up on me?

I know that we can keep asking God for forgiveness & He will welcome us with open arms. But human beings are imperfect & we get bruised & we stop trusting people when they continually hurt us.

Then I remember an example the director of my son’s school told us. He said to imagine there is a string connecting your heart to your child’s heart. We may do things or say things that break that string. Your child will be hurt. That relationship is affected…

BUT we have the chance to re-tie that heart string. To go to that child and ask for forgiveness. To be intentional about reconciling.

Re-tying heart strings.

I gather the 3 boys together. I get on my knees at their eye-level. I tell them that I made a big, big mistake. That I keep asking them to treat each other special & I have forgotten to treat them special. I ask for forgiveness. I tell them that I know I ask for forgiveness a lot.

I remind them of the story in the Bible:

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22

..meaning as many times as they ask.

I will continue to fail. I will break more heart strings. BUT I will continue to ask for forgiveness. I will continue to be in the business of re-tying heart strings.

photo credit

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& Thought Provoking Thursdays (Some Girl’s Website)



  1. seanandlaura

    wow heather. i feel like i was reading about my own week. you are doing hard work. for me, i kept telling my husband, “i’m so weary of reminding, and explaining, and disobedience.” Once again , But’s God’s patience with me is neverending and his mercies are new every morning. are mine? i’m reminded that I think there is no greater experience of sanctification than that of training children.

    • Heather MacFadyen

      oh the sanctification process of training children…so true. Like you said more than anything seeing His endless patience & grace with us…how I don’t offer that same patience & grace with my boys. Hope you are having a better week so far (1 day in!).

  2. Joel & Alice Fankhauser

    Wow. I know that was hard to write. It was a little hard to read. We had a similar week here. What a great reminder and encouragement heading into a new week. Thank you.

    • Heather MacFadyen

      you asked for least favorite…you got it. 😉 My monday was suprisingly better…even with the 2 yr old throwing up & feverish. Hope your week was off to a better start as well.

  3. Jennie

    crying reading this..again…:) thanks..loved it..

  4. Kara @ Just1Step

    This is such an awesome post. I haven’t reached the point of having multiple kids misbehaving at once, but my day is coming…and then I may be heading back here to reread this… 🙂

    • Heather MacFadyen

      Thanks for your encouragement Kara. Hope you are able to keep your cool when your multiple kids misbehave. If not, I hope you can return here and be encouraged.

  5. christie elkins

    Lovely words, so appropriate for my day. Had a lot of disobedience in my house today, from the kids and from me. Thanks for sharing your heart and re tying the strings!

    • Heather MacFadyen

      Sorry to hear about your day…hope that heart strings were re-tied and ready for a new day!

  6. Hannah T

    This has me in tears heather. Thanks for being honest and open. I’ve failed miserably lately and God has been convicting my heart. I’m so grateful for the never failing love my children have for me. Regardless of my reactions hey continue to love me. God is faithful. Thanks again for the reminder!

    • Heather MacFadyen

      Oh the never failing love of children. It amazes me sometimes how my boys can so quickly forgive & hug me & tell me how sweet & wonderful I am…usually they forgive me long before I forgive myself. Thanks Hannah!

  7. Gramma Nancy

    Heather, It’s OK to be “less than perfect” once in awhile. God (and your boys) know that your heart’s desire is to be pleasing to God, and that you love your boys, even when they are disobedient. It is good for children to see a grown up ask for forgiveness, but children also need to learn that they should obey parents, (so that they will learn obedience to God). The events in the Dr. office “just happened” because you were put in a situation that did not lend itself well to success. Little children have short attention spans in crowded spaces. Very normal stuff.
    Each new day provides a chance for you to say “Thank-you Lord for giving me another day to serve you. Help me to be the kind of mom you want me to be. Use me for furthering your kingdom here on earth.” Then, accept the events of the day and just appreciate the little blessings and little trials that inevitably come your way. God uses ALL our experiences to work His will in our lives. Blessings to you. You are a great MOM.

    • Heather MacFadyen

      Thank you for your encouragement Nancy! I agree 100% with everything you said.
      I still think that this post had to be written. Life with 4 boys this young is hard. They will misbehave. I will overreact & sin. My point in the post was how to handle reconciliation & making sure we don’t feel so defeated that we neglect re-tying those heart strings.

  8. Clare

    Thank you thank you thank you!!!! It sounded like you were describing my life at the moment. Thank you for your honesty in your struggle. It has helped this mama greatly today 🙂

    • Heather MacFadyen

      You are very welcome. It’s not something I think we want to share in common but I’m glad that we have a community of mommies to struggle & recover alongside each other.

  9. Stevie

    Thank you for sharing your heart! I know this wasnt an easy post to write, because it was about the truth and our faults but as a mom of a 19month old and due any minute I know about loosing my cool and saying i’m sorry to my toddler. Your blog hits home with me daily and has been such a blessing. The other day you asked your readers and followers to pray for you, and I have continued to lift you up to the Lord..and I know you dont know me from Adam but we are sisters in Christ and I sure do appreciate your openess and blog.

    • Heather MacFadyen

      Thank you stevie for your prayers! they are very, very much appreciated. And yes indeed we are sisters in Christ & that is huge! 😉

  10. Jacki R

    Thank you for writing this. I struggle with this all the time, and will continue to…but it is comforting to know I’m not alone, and there are fellow moms who are walking in His grace! I continue to prove to my children that God is the perfect parent, and I’m not! I do ask for forgiveness, and always pray that my shortcomings will be an opportunity for them (and me) to know and depend on Jesus more!

  11. thisgalsjourney

    Read this the other day but didn’t have (ahem, take) time to comment. I can SO very much relate to this. I hate that it’s such a daily struggle for me to speak lovingly to my kids/family, when I love the, to fiercely. Thank you for opening up and sharing! Praying you all find yor stride soon. 🙂

  12. simplystriving

    Oh, I’d hug your neck if I could! Thanks for sharing your heart. It blessed me. Lately, I’m considering it a good day if I don’t need to ask for forgiveness as well as days I do ask for forgiveness. They’re both going to be good days. And maybe I’ll have less days that require I bend low and admit my own failures. Maybe there won’t be. . .
    So thankful for grace! And today? today is going to be a good day…. 😉
    Thanks for linking up to Write It, Girl!
    All for Him,

  13. Alicia The Snowflake

    Amen! I have been there time and time and time again. I am so thankful for the forgiveness of children. I love the analogy of retying heart strings…so very true! Blessings!

  14. thehowardfamily4

    this brought tears to my eyes because i’ve had the same type of moments…many times…and i feel like i’m always saying “i’m sorry” to my boys. thank you for opening your heart and sharing this.

  15. Stef Layton

    YES! I had the same revelation not too long ago spanking a child while saying, “treat your brother the way you want to be treated”. I stood back shocked, hypocrite was all I could hear.

    I love that God gives us the ability to ask forgiveness of our children and mend those heart strings.


    • Heather MacFadyen

      Thanks Stef! every time i spank i have the same thought: “what am I doing?” glad to hear i’m not alone.


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